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Library Celebrates Grand Re-Opening Three Years After a Devastating Fire

In July of 2008, Swan’s Island Library and former Old Atlantic Schoolhouse (circa 1903) was struck by lightning. The building and its contents were completely destroyed by fire, and along with it and important community gathering place and a treasured piece of history.

Three years to the month after the tragic incident, the community gathered for the Grand Opening of the new Swan’s Island Library.

From Left to Right: Swan's Island Historical Society Founder Ed Wheaton; USDA Rural Development Area Director Raymond Roberts; Swan's Island Library Librarian Candis Joyce; and USDA Rural Development Area Specialist Lewis Sirois

From Left to Right: Swan's Island Historical Society Founder Ed Wheaton; USDA Rural Development Area Director Raymond Roberts; Swan's Island Library Librarian Candis Joyce; and USDA Rural Development Area Specialist Lewis Sirois

USDA Rural Development provided grant funds in the amount of $398,000 in the form of a Community Facility Grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help the community rebuild. This was one of the largest grants in the nation given to a library under the ARRA funds, and the largest grant ever given to a Maine library by USDA Rural Development. Other funding was provided by insurance proceeds and donations from the community.

As a result of the determination and commitment by the Swan’s Island community and USDA Rural Development, the new 3,500 sq. ft library is now a reality.

The major benefits to this rural community are the essential cultural, educational, and technological services provided by a community library, as well as the restoration of a gathering place that brings the community together.

USDA Rural Development has a long-standing partnership with Maine’s rural libraries, having invested $2.6 million in a dozen libraries through our Community Facility programs and providing $433,436 through a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant which helped link 15 rural Maine Libraries through distance learning technology.

A cozy chair tucked in the corner at Swan's Island Library

A cozy chair tucked in the corner at Swan's Island Library

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